No suspects in horse slaying

The killing at a Riverview farm appears to be deliberate, but no one knows of a motive.

Published January 19, 2008

RIVERVIEW - Irene Griffith doesn't know how to answer investigators' questions. Who would want to murder her 13-year-old quarter horse, Rocky? Does she have any enemies?

"I don't even know anybody," she said Friday, as she swept her barn. "You can't have any enemies if you don't know anyone."

But Griffith says she knows the bullet shot between Rocky's eyes was intentional. Someone must have walked up her ranch's dirt driveway with a purpose, she said, because her horses can't be seen from the road.

Investigators don't have any suspects yet, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said Friday. Agricultural unit investigators talked to Griffith on Friday and walked through the pasture where Rocky was shot.

A neighbor and a ranch assistant found the horse dead in the pasture at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. They immediately told Griffith.

Before the murder, she used to go to her barns to relax. Every problem would melt away.

"I don't care how angry you are, how upset you are. You can come out here and feel better," she said. "But not this time."

She's afraid the shooter might come back, so she's keeping her horses out of sight.

Griffith loves those horses, her "babies," but they don't fill the void her quietest one left. She remembers how he would gently try to get her attention, how his eyes seemed to speak to her.

His stall is empty now. The only sign of him is a bent gate that he rubbed himself against.

"I don't get it," she said, holding back tears. "He certainly didn't deserve it."

A horse was shot and killed in the Fort Meade area in October. Another horse was fatally shot in Riverview in August 2005.

Anyone with information about Rocky's death can call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813 247-8200.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com and 813-661-2443.